“We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It’s about a process. A journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try and fail, and try again for as long as he or she lives.”
Excerpt from Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard
A few nights ago in class we were learning an American Kempo technique called Crushing Hammer, when I had a little grasshopper moment: “Wow, it’s like puzzle pieces.”
Basic karate strikes and kicks are a creative collection of puzzle pieces, custom tailored to fit the human body. They work together in infinite combinations, forming kempos and katas.
The leopard’s paw fits perfectly into either the throat or armpit. The hammerfist can be used vertically on the bridge of the nose, or circled around horizontally to strike the ribs or kidneys. A roundhouse kick can be used to strike the ribs or head, or it can loop around and travel downward to buckle the back of a knee.
Add some targeting and power, and a kempo is formed. Combine several kempos, sprinkle in some strategy, timing and flow, and a kata is born. — Patty
Shaolin Kempo’s lone mythological creature. Wise, powerful, flexible. A marriage of the tiger, fish, snake and eagle. Skilled fighter on land, water and in the sky.
Huntington Library and Gardens – Chinese New Year 2012.
I really wanted to weasel my way out of testing for my next rank this weekend. I just didn’t feel like I was ready. I haven’t been putting enough practice time in for several months… I’ve been too busy with work and life.
A few days ago we did a mock test during our lesson, and I could not make it through even one kata without messing up. I was sure I’d forgotten everything and it would take weeks to remember it all again.
When I tried to postpone, Sensei Donnie gave me the old “I only had 2 days to prepare for my black belt test and had to walk 10 miles to the dojo, in the sleet and snow, with holes in my flip flops” story. He told me to just buck up.
So I did — I ate, breathed, slept karate for the next few days. I’m so glad he pushed me, because it made me realize that I do know everything already… I just wasn’t focused. As soon as I stopped worrying about how I’d do at the test, and instead shifted my attention into using the time I had left to practice, it changed everything.
It was a big reminder to me about how my thoughts can either pull me down or lift me up. — Patty.
These were parting words from Sensei Lucas as I was leaving the dojo one day last week. I was in a hurry to get to work, so his advice didn’t quite settle in until I was driving home several hours later.
It reminded me of something I’d heard a while ago about a study that was done proving that when a person visualizes doing any sort of physical activity, their muscles actually fire in sequence.
I turned off my car stereo and began to mentally run through the kempos we’d reviewed earlier that day. I surprised myself by remembering not only the techniques themselves, but several detailed notes that Sensei Lucas had given me as well.
My daily drive to work is about to become my extra workout time. — Patty.
“In order to grow a healthy bonsai tree, you must clip it here and there so that its’ full beauty will shine through.” I’m paraphrasing something Sensei Donnie said during our lesson today. We were discussing what to do if a particular technique wasn’t working for us. Do we throw the whole thing away? No. We make adjustments so that it will suit our needs and physical stature. Instead of a backfist to the nose, maybe an elbow will work better. Instead of kicking the knee, maybe we should stomp on the foot instead. He encouraged us to question and challenge everything we’ve been taught in order to become better martial artists. — Patty.
I found my emotional center as well as my physical center of gravity tonight, during a grappling exercise. My emotional center came from practicing complete relaxation. When I stopped trying to control my opponent, I was able to control my opponent. I could feel my grappling partner expending an enormous amount of energy, trying really hard to pull me down – but I wouldn’t budge. We did eventually hit the ground, but I continued to fight from this relaxed state and pinned her down a few seconds later, almost effortlessly. Now all I need to do is find a way to apply this exercise to my daily life. — Patty.